Slow Hollows's Austin Feinstien Worked on 'Blond' and 'Cherry Bomb.' Now his band rules too
Listen to the young LA five-piece's new track "Last Dance."
Austin Feinstien is 18 years old; this makes no sense to me. In a phone conversation with the singer and guitarist the other day—one you can read below—I spent 20 minutes trying to tell him why that makes no sense to me. He mostly responded by telling me that he was trying to keep his feet on the ground; I kept telling him that was dumb.
This is the guy that Frank Ocean called when he wanted to take "Self Control" to the next level, the guy you can see and hear on Tyler, The Creator's Cherry Bomb standout, "Perfect." Forget the fact that he walked for Yves Saint Laurent at a Paris fashion show last summer and focus entirely on Feinstien's music and you're faced with an intimidating stash of work already.
Slow Hollows, the Los Angeles five-piece that Feinstien heads up, is his main outlet. The band, made up of guitarist Dylan Thinnes, bassist Aaron Jassenoff, synth player Reed Kanter, and drummer Jackson Katz, are already gearing up to release their third LP, Romantic, on November 4 through Danger Collective Records.
"Last Dance," premiering on Noisey today, is a fine indication of where the band is at right now: straight-ahead hooks, charming melodies, a familiar indie aesthetic twisted into something refreshing through she sheer simplicity of the whole thing. Listen to it below.
Noisey: First of all, are you in college?
Austin Fenistien: I just graduated high school. I'm just taking a year off to do this. There's a lot of touring plans that we have coming up until April, all over the US. So just focusing on that, trying not to blow what I've worked for.
How did you come to work with Frank Ocean?
I had been working with Tyler on and off for probably a year. I had met Frank a couple of times and he was like, "Yeah, I know of your music, a couple of people have showed me." And then one day I got a text from him asking if I'd be on a song. I just went in, did all of that, you know?
Yeah, he had a couple different versions of the song and a couple different people singing the same part. It never really came together right. He actually wanted either a female vocalist or me to sing higher. I'm just not capable of anything like that, it would just sound horrible and forced. It just wouldn't sound like singing. So I was like, "OK, rather than forcing something, I'm just going to do what I do and if he hates it, then that's fine. That's just what I do." And he actually liked it a lot. That was lucky.
What's the difference in the creative process with you're working with guys like Frank and Tyler rather than the band?
I'm more used to it now. At first it was something that I needed to figure out and realize my place. Because I'm so used to having my own guitar and writing my own songs and making it exactly how i want it to be, you just have to, not settle, but realize what's necessary for the song. And then also just play in a genre that's out of your element. That's the biggest factor.
And before that there was Yves Saint Laurent...
Well, Yves Saint Lauren happened because the creative director at the time, Heidi Silmane, he used to come to all of these shows around Los Angeles, he was really fascinated with that whole trashy style that was going on and still is going on in Los Angeles. He'd seen me at a couple of these things, had seen me play I believe, and then had somehow got in contact with me. He asked me to come in for some audition fitting bullshit. I was like, OK, I'm not really that interested in modelling, this is kind of sketchy. But I did a little fitting and it was great, went to Paris and that was all cool. That's kind of how that happened.
You seem to take all of this in your stride.
I try just not to get to full of myself. A lot of people, with situations that I have, if they were to do some of these things, they could say, "Oh, OK, here's my out; here's my opportunity for fame." I'm not in it for any of that. I started writing music because i just wanted to play for people, I just loved that whole thing. So all of this is kind of like, "OK, this is all great, and this is definitely benefiting me and helping me do what I want." But i don't want that to freak me out and just make me thing that I'm something that I shouldn't be, some not genuine person. I want to stay extremely genuine and true to myself and true to my friends and not be some asshole.
Is there a similar recklessness to what you do with Slow Hollows, just thinking that you'll push it out and see what people think?
Kind of. We definitely have released a decent amount of music the last couple of years. With that, I don't feel like I just want to put something out because it feels right in the moment, even though that would be great. Even though I used to do that before anybody knew about me. Most of the time, the songs were half-baked ideas that weren't great and I was just really hyped on them. So I was like, "sick, this is coming out." But I realized that, while that does seem cool, it's good to take your time as well. You can still take your time with something, make sure that it's the best that it can be, and then put it out when it feels right.
Lead photo by Riley Donahue.
Follow Noisey on Twitter.